TWIN FALLS — An employee of Amalgamated Sugar in the Twin Falls region has died from COVID-19, according to the South Central Public Health District.
The Idaho Statesman is tracking coronavirus outbreaks in Idaho’s agricultural sector. This is the first publicized COVID death linked to an Idaho agribusiness, based on information released by Idaho public health districts or gleaned from public record requests. The employee died July 26, according to Amalgamated Sugar.
Neither the health district nor Amalgamated Sugar was able to provide any other information about the employee. The South Central Public Health District in Twin Falls identified the first COVID-19 case from Amalgamated Sugar on May 5, and a total of 27 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases among employees of Amalgamated Sugar within the eight Magic Valley counties in the public health district as of Sept. 8. Only three of the cases were still being monitored, according to district spokesperson Brianna Bodily.
Amalgamated Sugar spokesperson Jessica Anderson said the Twin Falls facility was only aware of nine employees who had tested positive for COVID-19 over the same time period, and all eight surviving employees were recovered and back to work.
“We express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of our employee who passed due to COVID-19,” Anderson wrote in an email to the Statesman. “It is a sad and unfortunate situation, as is it is when any of our employees pass for any reason. For the sake of our employee’s and his family’s privacy, we decline to comment further.”
Anderson claimed Amalgamated Sugar was not a source of COVID-19 spread, citing safety precautions the company implemented early in the pandemic and company contact tracing that determined the cases were not due to workplace exposure. The company has completed more than 115,000 health screenings since March 20, Anderson said, and began issuing and requiring employee face masks on April 15.
“We have been very aggressive in our work to protect employee health, conducting health checks, providing ample sick leave and time off, and implementing strong social distancing and sanitation measures,” Anderson wrote.
Idaho adds six deaths, over 230 new COVID cases Tuesday
Health districts around Idaho reported 235 new confirmed coronavirus cases to its totals, as well as six new deaths linked to the virus.
The Tuesday deaths were reported western and northern areas of Idaho. Pairs of COVID-19 deaths were reported in Ada and Payette counties, bringing the death count for each up to 142 and six, respectively. Single deaths were reported in Canyon and Kootenai counties, bringing the death total for each county to 94 and 33, respectively.
Idaho’s total for coronavirus-related deaths is now 425 as of Tuesday.
As for new cases, Ada County reported 41 confirmed cases Tuesday, the most of any county. Its total is now 11,109. Canyon County, on the other hand, only reported seven new cases Tuesday. It’s the second time in three days the county has reported a new case count in the single-digits. Its total cases is now 7,282.
Other counties reporting double-digit new cases Tuesday include Bingham (40 new), Madison (20), Bonneville (19), Twin Falls (15), Bannock (14) and Minidoka (10).
As of Tuesday, Idaho has reported 33,311 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The latest total brings the state’s seven-day rolling average to 261 new cases per day, an increase from 247.6 just one week ago.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 61 new “probable” cases, bringing that total to 2,863. Of those with the virus, IDHW says 19,075 are presumed to be recovered.
As of Tuesday, 278,779 COVID-19 tests have been taken and around 11.9% have returned positive.
Coronavirus cases have been reported in all of Idaho’s 44 counties: Ada 11,109, Adams 25, Bannock 848, Bear Lake 41, Benewah 127, Bingham 753, Blaine 596, Boise 52, Bonner 249, Bonneville 1,853, Boundary 46, Butte 29, Camas 10, Canyon 7,282, Caribou 72, Cassia 553, Clark 22, Clearwater 25, Custer 44, Elmore 253, Franklin 75, Fremont 127, Gem 240, Gooding 215, Idaho 74, Jefferson 361, Jerome 610, Kootenai 2,358, Latah 278, Lemhi 54, Lewis 11, Lincoln 67, Madison 310, Minidoka 554, Nez Perce 355, Oneida 19, Owyhee 292, Payette 691, Power 192, Shoshone 209, Teton 123, Twin Falls 1,727, Valley 80, Washington 300.